Bodybuilding.com grew up in Boise, Idaho, but the people who fill our ranks come from all over the world. Many were readers and customers of the site long before they became employees. But once they're part of the team, their life and results go to the next level.
Keith Sivera was working in New York when Bodybuilding.com helped him find a foothold in fitness. But it was only when he was within our walls that he underwent the ultimate rite of passage: Following one of our 12-week hardcore training plans to the letter from Day 1 through Day 84! Here's what our director of offline marketing learned along the way.
Name: Keith Sivera
Occupation: Director of Offline Marketing
Education: Bachelor of Science, Quinnipiac University
Tell us what you do at Bodybuilding.com.
I have kind of a unique position: offline marketing for an online company. In my department, I cover a lot of ground, from events like expos to public relations work, athletes, sponsorships, gyms, and military connections. Now we have a college campaign, too. There are a lot of different channels that I manage now, kind of combining the sort of roles that I had in every other job up to this point.
The reason I was willing to come from New York to Boise for this job is that I was reading the site and following the lifestyle before I started working here. When this opportunity came up to meld my personal interests with my career, I knew it would really let me spread my wings.
What's it like on the ground working for Bodybuilding.com at a big expo?
Oh, it's a lot of work. It's 16-hour days with lots of travel and time away from your family. And once you're there, it's an all-hands-on-deck experience when you have 10,000-12,000 people coming through!
My first job ever was breaking down cardboard boxes in the back of a liquor store, and I find myself now, as a director, in the back of our booth breaking down cardboard boxes! I am doing the grunt work, sweating my butt off—and it's awesome!
Everyone just loves being at shows. Guys spend $30, $40, $50—whatever they charge to get in—and wait in line to meet the athletes they follow and get free stuff. But, really, attendees just want to engage with a brand they're passionate about. They share the excitement of fitness with their friends and all the people around them. You feel that energy at the expos.
Expo-goers are the people who read the articles, follow the videos, use the store, and feel close to our brand because we helped them transform their bodies. It's a close, emotional connection. I've seen grown men cry when they meet Jim Stoppani. I've seen girls bawling to meet Ashley Horner or see Jamie Eason. It's crazy!
How does that passion resonate with your own story?
It's why I'm here! I was introduced to this company because I needed to lose weight—and I did! I lost 60 pounds using the site. I've even been a BodySpace member since 2006. Now, I get to work on projects that impact people who may find fitness as a way to lose weight or whatever the goal may be. I feel like I owe it to the company and the customers who are looking for answers.
That's why the trips to surprise our annual transformation winners have been the most thrilling and inspirational experiences I've ever had in my career.
Ultimate Surprise Bodybuilding.com's 2015 $200k Transformation Challenge Winners
Watch the video - 3:54
How has your approach to fitness changed since you started working here?
I started working out 8-9 years ago, basically just doing a lot of cardio. My weight had gone up and down at that time. I trained a lot, but my diet never got dialed in consistently.
Working here, you are consumed by fitness and fed with positive reinforcement from everyone. It's not hard to eat clean when everyone else—for the most part—is eating clean around you, rather than trying to do it on your own and being the weirdo who is eating chicken and rice every day. Having a gym like ours here helps of course, too. There are no missed workouts.
This is also the first time I have ever had a workout partner. I had always trained by myself. Having someone to train with on a consistent basis will help you push through those extra reps and sets. You can't phone in your workout or not do the cardio. Having that support team was way different than being out there doing it by myself like I was.
But getting fit has another level of meaning for you, right? Tell us about that.
In 2006, I got sober, and that was when there was a big shift for me. My first day in the gym was my first day of sobriety.
They say your life can become unmanageable. Up until I got sober, mine was just messy. I was gaining a lot of weight, struggling with relationships. Work was becoming exceedingly difficult and drinking was my priority, over all else, paying bills, and everything. I dug myself into a hole.
For me, when I stopped, it was night and day. Immediately, everything got better. I met my wife in the AA program. I was able to land a job that put me on the right path that ended up getting me to this point. I grew closer to my family. I got into shape. All these things helped me accelerate upward. For me, once I saw that change, it was just so black and white for me. This summer marks nine years that I've been sober.
Even with all your fitness experience, though, you hadn't ever finished a 12-week program until this year. What was that experience like?
In the past, I would find myself starting a program, then saying, oh, I'm going to do this instead. Or I'd go back to a workout that I'd liked doing before. This spring I did the Kris Gethin 14-Week Muscle-Building Program and it definitely pushed me to do things I normally wouldn't do.
For the first time, I decided that I'd do exactly what the program said, and admit that I don't know everything and should just trust the process. It takes longer than you realize! It's not the first two weeks, or four weeks. It's week eight and onward where you're like, "Holy cow, this is working!" I trusted it blindly. That program was well-suited for keeping me entertained. The phases mixed up often, so you do different styles of training throughout, which kept me interested.
Did the daily videos help?
Yes, there is a difference between watching an intro or promo video with training tips and having Kris doing it along with you the whole time. That was really motivating. I'd watch those the night before coming in to do the workout the next day. And I'd think, "If Kris were here, what would he think of the effort I'm putting in?" He really kills himself in those videos, and it makes a big difference. I know it did for me.
You moved from New York to Boise to work here. What was the transition like?
It was a big, big thing. I remember it was Memorial Day weekend. I'd applied for the job on a Friday while visiting my parents in Florida, and I got a call that next Tuesday from a recruiter. I remember asking my wife, "What do you think about Boise, Idaho?" She was like, "I know nothing about it. I have no opinion on it."
It turns out that Boise is beautiful and awesome and such a cool place to be, but if you're not from here or near here, then you don't know about it. When I told people I was leaving New York City for Boise, they were like, "Why? You're crazy!" If Bodybuilding.com wasn't here, I never would have looked here for work.
It was a big culture shock, but a lot of positive culture shock. People are super nice and welcoming. When I first got here, I had to let my guard down a little bit. In the beginning out here, I'd go to Starbucks and order coffee and they were like, "So what are you doing with your day today?" I was like, "What? Why are you asking me so many questions? Oh, you're just being nice!"
Normally, I'd keep my blinders on and focus on what I was doing, eyes straight ahead. Anybody coming into your periphery in New York is some sort of threat. Here, they're not. You don't lock your doors; people leave their windows down or their cars running when they run into a store. It's super safe and nice. The cost of living is amazing. We just bought our first house and I don't know if we would have ever done that in New York. We could have been renting the rest of our lives.
My wife works in TV and she's very good at what she does and she's been able to maintain her career, even from Idaho. She now travels to LA or New York and works on TV shows, then comes home. We've kind of found this balance between it all. We both travel a lot and we have a 3-year-old daughter, Sophie. It's been tough, but it continues to pay off.
What would you say is the most interesting place you've visited through your job?
Germany. It's the most culturally different from here or anywhere else I've been up to this point. But fitness is the same. We just do it in a different way. We eat different foods, but we try to reach that same goal.
I found myself in this gym there called Muscle Gym. It's this dark, dingy underground, black iron, spit-and-sawdust kind of place. Everything is either in kilograms or not labeled at all, so you don't know what you're picking up. The machines are all from the 1960s and you could impale yourself at any moment.
We were in there lifting weights with our team and our athletes and I looked up and had this moment. I was lifting with all these awesome athletes in a tight group of people. I was like, "How did this happen?" It was a really cool experience.
And then, once I was back in the expo, it was the same as ever. It's our customers. It's people who want to prove themselves. We all have that same mentality.